740.00119 (Potsdam)/5–2446

No. 288
Briefing Book Paper
top secret

Rumania: Background Information


1. Execution of the Armistice

An Allied Control Commission, in which the Soviet member exercises all real authority although the United States and the United Kingdom are also represented, was established to enforce the terms of armistice which Rumania accepted from the three principal Allied Governments on September 12, 1944.1 The Soviet authorities in Rumania have interpreted and enforced the armistice terms without reference to the views of the American and British representatives. It is hoped that provision will now be made for active participation of the latter in the work of the Commission, especially since military considerations, after the surrender of Germany, are no longer paramount.

2. The Economic Situation

Heavy Soviet demands under the armistice plus the obligations Rumania has undertaken in recently concluded economic agreements with the U. S. S. R.2 probably will have the effect of breaking down Rumania’s economy, tying Rumania economically to the Soviet Union to the exclusion of trade and financial relations with other countries and making it impossible for American business interests to operate in Rumania.

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3. The Political Situation

The present Groza Government was imposed on Rumania by the Soviet Government. It represents only the leftist bloc and not the National Peasant and National Liberal parties, which our representatives believe have a large popular following. We regard it as an unrepresentative minority government and have attempted to bring about conversations with the Soviet and British Governments3 in order to review the whole situation in the light of the Declaration on Liberated Europe.4 Although our request was refused by the Soviet Government, we still hope to secure tripartite agreement on the reorganization of the Rumanian government and on procedures for free elections.

[Washington,] July 5, 1945.

Rumania: Background Information

1. Long-range American Interest

The long-range interest of the United States in the maintenance of peace and stability in eastern Europe may be involved in the issues now arising in connection with the control of Rumania during the armistice period and with the peace settlement. The fundamental problem is the degree to which the United States will acquiesce in the exercise by the Soviet Union of a dominant or exclusive political and economic influence in Rumania. It poses the need for reconciling, in this region, our policy of cooperation with the U. S. S. R. for the preservation of peace with our principles and commitments embodied in the Atlantic Charter,5 in the Yalta agreements, and in many general statements of policy.

2. Execution of the Armistice

Rumania surrendered to the three principal Allies on August 23, 1944 and signed an armistice with them in Moscow on September 12. The armistice terms were presented to the Rumanians after agreement on them was reached by the three Allied Governments. In accordance with them Rumania participated in the war against Germany maintaining about fourteen divisions in the field.

An Allied Control Commission was established by the armistice agreement for the enforcement of its terms. As Rumania was in the Soviet Theater of military operations, the Soviet military authorities have exercised the administrative and executory functions of the Commission, the American and British members having more or less the position of observers. In interpreting and enforcing the armistice terms the Soviet authorities have acted without reference to the views [Page 372] of the United States and British Governments or of the representatives of those Governments in Rumania.

By their presence on the Allied Control Commission the American representatives bear a certain responsibility for its decisions in which they have no voice. It is hoped that provision will be made for their actual participation, particularly now that the Commission will be concerned less with the military clauses of the armistice and more with the problems of transition to normal peacetime relations between Rumania and the United Nations. We have proposed that the Commission be made truly tripartite6 but have received no reply to our proposal from the Soviet Government.

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3. The Economic Situation

In the execution of the economic clauses of the armistice the Soviet Government has compelled Rumania to accept very heavy demands which we consider not wholly justified under the armistice. Fulfillment of these demands would, in the opinion of our representatives, speed up the present ruinous inflation, disrupt the entire economy of Rumania, and make it virtually impossible for Rumania to supply relief to such countries as Greece and Yugoslavia or to engage in trade with countries other than the U. S. S. R.

The Soviet Union has recently concluded economic agreements with Rumania under which Rumania’s entire exportable surplus would go to the U. S. S. R., and special Soviet-Rumanian companies are to be formed for the operation of key Rumanian industries. If carried out, these agreements will have the effect of making Rumania economically dependent on the U. S. S. R., without economic contact with other countries outside eastern Europe. Under these conditions it will probably be impossible for American interests to engage in trade with Rumania or to carry on business in that country.

4. The Political Situation

The United States has maintained in Rumania since November 1944, in addition to our representation on the Allied Control Commission, an informal civilian mission headed by Mr. Burton Y. Berry, who is charged with the protection of American citizens and property interests.

From the time of its surrender Rumania was administered by a series of three coalition governments in which all the major parties, from the National Liberals on the right to the Communists on the extreme left, were represented. In the absence of general elections since 1937 these governments seemed to be roughly representative of the popular will as expressed openly in the pre-dictatorship period and more recently in the movement of opposition during the Antonescu [Page 374] regime. In February of this year an acute political crisis arose when the leftist parties, grouped in the National Democratic Front led by the Communists, began a campaign to overthrow the government and establish a purely leftist regime. This campaign had the support of the Soviet press and radio and was aided by measures taken by the Soviet authorities in Rumania. It culminated in the visit to Bucharest of Vice-Commissar Vyshinsky, who forced the Rumanian King to dismiss the Radescu Government and to install a leftist government under Petru Groza.

We did not regard the Groza regime as a broadly representative interim government within the meaning of the Crimea Declaration on Liberated Europe and have since maintained an attitude of reserve toward it. On March 14 we formally invoked that Declaration, requesting tripartite consultation on the political situation in Rumania.7 The British Government accepted the proposal, but the Soviet Government refused, saying that it did not believe any further steps were necessary.8 It accepted responsibility for the change of regime in Rumania, justifying its action on the ground that the Radescu Government had failed to keep order in the rear of the Red Army and that the Groza Government had restored order and was truly representative of the democratic elements of the population.

The Groza regime, which is dominated by the Communists, has followed a policy of full compliance with all Soviet desires and of suppression of political opposition, which is represented chiefly by the National Peasant and National Liberal Parties. Unless the government is reorganized to include representatives of these parties, or unless elections are supervised by representatives of the Allied Governments, it is obvious that the Rumanian people will not be given an opportunity to choose freely the institutions under which they are to live.

  1. Executive Agreement Series No. 490; 59 Stat. (2) 1712.
  2. Signed at Moscow, May 8, 1945. Text in British and Foreign State Papers, vol. cxlix, p. 876.
  3. See document No. 301, footnote 1.
  4. See vol. ii, document No. 1417, section v .
  5. Executive Agreement Series No. 236; 55 Stat. (2) 1603.
  6. Grew informed Harriman as follows in telegram No. 1257 of June 8 (file No. 740.00119 EW/6–845):

    General Vinogradov has told General Schuyler in Bucharest that Soviet ACC authorities in Rumania are making recommendations to Moscow on possible changes in Rumanian armistice to meet changed situation brought about by end of hostilities in Europe. Vinogradov asked Schuyler for US Govt’s suggestions on this matter. Schuyler is withholding reply pending receipt of instructions. (Sent to Moscow and London, repeated to Bucharest).

    “While we do not know whether Soviet Govt proposes to reopen in Moscow more or less formal review of Rumanian armistice terms or merely to work out in Rumania a new approach to problems connected with execution of armistice agreement, it appears to us in either case to be a matter for discussion and agreement on government level. We believe it would be sufficient for three Allied Governments to reach informal understanding on interpretation and application of armistice terms in second period without actually re-negotiating the Armistice Agreement of September 12.

    “Please inform Soviet Government of General Vinogradov’s approach to General Schuyler, stating this Govt’s readiness to participate in discussions on this subject in Moscow or elsewhere and to make certain concrete proposals. Your communication should then set forth for the information of Soviet Govt our view that the ACC should be reorganized along lines proposed for Hungarian ACC in Deptel 1168, May 28 [see document No. 287, footnote 5]. While this suggestion cannot be based on any reservation made at the time of the armistice negotiations and would involve modification of ACC procedures as set up under Article 18, in that ACC no longer would operate under general direction of Soviet High Command, we put it forward because we believe the situation requires such a change in Rumania as well as in Hungary and Bulgaria, our interests and general attitude being substantially the same in all three ex-satellite states.

    “You may also say that, in view of the greatly reduced importance of the factor of military responsibility, we would expect the ACC, reorganized in the manner set forth in preceding paragraph, to exercise most of the functions assigned by the Armistice to the Allied (Soviet) High Command.

    “For your information and general guidance the following are main points of Dept’s thinking on execution of certain of the Articles of the Armistice in the second period in the event the subject is discussed in Moscow:

    • “1. Article 1, so far as it refers to Rumanian participation in military operations, should be considered no longer operative. Although Armistice does not provide for demobilization, as do Bulgarian and Hungarian armistice agreements, we would have no objection to any proposals for the reduction of the Rumanian Army, including units formed in USSR, to size necessary for purpose of maintaining order, a responsibility which should be transferred from Soviet High Command to Rumanian authorities.

      “Transfer to the Rumanian Government of responsibility for keeping order raises the question of maintenance of Soviet forces in Rumania which presumably will be dealt with in accordance with article 6 of the Four-Nation Declaration of Moscow, October 30, 1943.

    • “2. Allied censorship provided for in Article 16 should be relaxed in order to allow freedom of the press and of other forms of expression and the restoration of postal and telecommunications between Rumania and all Allied countries.
    • “3. Final settlement of Rumania’s boundaries is properly a matter for the peace treaty between Rumania and the Allies. Article 19 provides for review ‘at the peace settlement’ of the return of Transylvania (or the greater part thereof). We are prepared to begin preliminary discussions with Soviet and British Governments concerning the procedures which may be adopted in arriving at a definitive settlement of this question, possibly in connection with general procedures for reaching agreement on other European territorial problems.
    • “4. There are several other matters connected with interpretation of the armistice, such as definition of war booty, demands for damages under Article 12 which provides only for specific restitution, etc., all of which might well be discussed in ACC if it is reorganized in accordance with our present proposal. Department will send you specific instructions on these points if they should be raised in Moscow.”

    Harriman informed Molotov of the views of the United States Government on June 12, and so reported to the Department of State on June 13 (telegram No. 2056, file No. 740.00119 E. W./6–1345).

  7. The communication referred to is not printed.
  8. See document No. 301, footnote 1.